The Hands that Heal Obstetric Fistula

Tomorrow, on the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, we have an opportunity to shine a light on the important work underway to treat women living with fistula—a devastating childbirth injury—and the progress we are making to prevent it from happening in the first place. In the hands of a well-trained surgeon, the majority of fistulas can be repaired. And under the care of doctors like Dr. Dolorès Nembunzu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), we are getting even closer to our goal of ushering in a fistula-free generation.

Dr. Nembunzu is an obstetrician-gynecologist trained in complex fistula repair surgeries; she is also the medical director of St. Joseph’s Hospital, EngenderHealth’s Fistula Care Plus–supported project in Kinshasa, DRC. But to the women she helps, Dr. Nembunzu is best known as “maman” (mother), because of the kindness she exudes and the warmth that shines through her work—both as their doctor and as their advocate. After performing her first fistula surgery, she recalls, “I will never forget the extraordinary joy on her face when she woke up and realized the bed was dry.”

Dr. Nembunzu’s approach is to connect with each woman, to understand her aspirations, to know her, and to help her on her journey back to her family and her community. Dr. Nembunzu’s personal touch is the catalyst for the healing that follows each surgery. We honor Dr. Nembunzu, and the trained providers just like her, who dedicate their work to improving the health and lives of women.

Learn more about how we can achieve a fistula-free generation, and join the conversation on Twitter with #fistulafree.